While it may not have the head-scratching cosmic significance of the classic choice between Goobers and Raisinettes, or even the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray format war, the LCD vs. plasma question remains a hot topic. The casual shopper may simply want a flat panel TV no matter what the technology, but the serious videophile wants to know more.
I uploaded my final blogs from CEDIA Expo 2006 on Tuesday. I returned Sunday and had intended to post them early Monday, but United Airlines delayed my luggage until Monday afternoon. It was very thoughtful of United to help me avoid schlepping home bags loaded with brochures, notes, my camera card reader, and the power supply for my laptop. They even hand delivered them to my home for me.
I've only been living with the new Optoma HD81 DLP projector for a little over a week, but it's already becoming obvious that new 1080p projectors selling for more than the Optoma's $7,000 price are likely to have a difficult time in the market. Even the sub-$7,000 price category is destined to be a battleground. There have already been announcements from Sony (SXRD), Mitsubishi (LCD), Panasonic (LCD), Sanyo (LCD), and BenQ (DLP) of new 1080p projectors priced lower, and in some cases considerably lower, than the Optoma. We expect to see more, and perhaps a lot more, such models at the 2006 CEDIA Expo in Denver later this week. We'll be reporting on them, and other new developments, in daily reports from the show floor. Stay tuned.
The Harman Specialty Group's booth was nearly set up for Thursday's official opening when we snapped these photos of the new Revel Ultima2 series. The tallest is the new Salon2 ($22,000/pair), the smaller floor-stander is the new Studio2 ($16,000/pair, not shown, but similarly styled) The others were the Gem2 (not shown) and Voice2 (photo below). The new Ultima2s will roll out gradually, with the Salon and Studio due around the first of the year and the other pieces scheduled in late winter or early spring 2007.
It's that time of year again. A nip in the air. The trees changing color. Well, OK, September is a bit early for either of those annual events, and in any case we rarely experience them in LA, but you get the idea. Fall is coming, and with it thoughts of new high definition programs, new formats, new video displays, new audio gear, and all that other indoor stuff that was pushed into the background by beaches, barbecues, and way too much of that unhealthy fresh air and sunshine.
The August 2006 issue of <I>Popular Mechanics</I> devotes one entire page (!) to HD DVD. The main feature of the article is a comparison between HD DVD and the standard disc played back on a much less expensive, upconverting DVD player (an $80 Philips).
As I reported in my news story on the recent <A HREF=" http://www.ultimateavmag.com/news/082006displaysearch/ ">DisplaySearch HDTV conference</A>, rear projection displays have lost much of their allure. Everyone, it seems, wants flat, Flat, FLAT! Plasma and LCD displays are hot, and many potential buyers see bulky rear projection displays as old school technology. Some folks even confuse them with CRT rear projection sets.
In mid-2005 the average selling price of a 50" plasma display began its yearlong plunge from over $5,000 to a June 2006 average of just above $3,000. The number of sets sold at the new prices more than tripled, even accounting for the traditionally hot fall (2005) selling season.
It has long been rumored that Sony is readying a new, lower-priced SXRD front projector to slot in under the current VPL-VW100. Now those rumors, while not yet confirmed, have more substance. The new projector is codenamed Pearl, and may have the official designation VPL-VW50. (The internal codename for the VPL-VW100, Ruby, has stuck as a name for that projector, though it appears in none of Sony's promotional materials). If the rumors pan out, the new projector will be introduced at the 2006 International Funkausstellung in Berlin in early September, and most certainly will have its official U.S. launch at the 2006 CEDIA EXPO in Denver two weeks later.
Two years ago you would have paid over $10,000 for a large, widescreen flat panel LCD display. And "large" might well have meant 32" diagonal. The picture would have been bright and crisp, but a pale reflection of the overall image quality available from still-plentiful CRT direct view sets. Its resolution would have been 1280x720, tops, or one of those bizarre resolutions like 1365x768 that are still featured in many flat panels.